Nutrient removal from Chinese coastal waters by large-scale seaweed aquaculture

Xi Xiao, Susana Agusti, Fang Lin, Ke Li, Yaoru Pan, Yan Yu, Yuhan Zheng, Jiaping Wu, Carlos M. Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Scopus citations


China is facing intense coastal eutrophication. Large-scale seaweed aquaculture in China is popular, now accounting for over 2/3's of global production. Here, we estimate the nutrient removal capability of large-scale Chinese seaweed farms to determine its significance in mitigating eutrophication. We combined estimates of yield and nutrient concentration of Chinese seaweed aquaculture to quantify that one hectare of seaweed aquaculture removes the equivalent nutrient inputs entering 17.8 ha for nitrogen and 126.7 ha for phosphorus of Chinese coastal waters, respectively. Chinese seaweed aquaculture annually removes approximately 75,000 t nitrogen and 9,500 t phosphorus. Whereas removal of the total N inputs to Chinese coastal waters requires a seaweed farming area 17 times larger than the extant area, one and a half times more of the seaweed area would be able to remove close to 100% of the P inputs. With the current growth rate of seaweed aquaculture, we project this industry will remove 100% of the current phosphorus inputs to Chinese coastal waters by 2026. Hence, seaweed aquaculture already plays a hitherto unrealized role in mitigating coastal eutrophication, a role that may be greatly expanded with future growth of seaweed aquaculture.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 21 2017


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